Here on Easter Eve, as I prepare for Easter morning worship, a call comes from Africa to tell us that Mpaulo, the little boy our daughter, Michal, spent much of the past three months cuddling and loving, just died. (Here's a picture of the two of them posted by my son, Joseph, on his Worldmag blog.)
Two days ago, Michal and her dear friend, Annie Walker, left Ndola, Zambia, for London, where they will spend a short time before returning home. Michal had set her heart on having her elder sister and her husband, Heather and Archie Ummel, adopt Mpaulo, and some of you may have received an email from Heather and Archie, or me, asking if you might be able to help us with information concerning the five other Zambian children adopted by US citizens in the past year.
Many of you gave of your time and prayers to this end, and despite considerable setbacks, as Michal and Annie left Ndola we were all hopeful for the eventual adoption of Mpaulo and his reunion with Michal, Annie, and the rest of his new Covenant family.
But God is gracious, and saw fit to answer our prayers in another way.
My dear brother in Christ, David Wegener, called to tell us of Mpaulo's death and will see to the funeral arrangements and service. (In fact, it's likely that beyond two of the women from the orphanage, David, his wife, Terri, and their children Elizabeth, Mary, Sarah, and Jonathan will be the only ones present to mourn Mpaulo's passing.)
Yes, I know Mpaulo is one among millions of little orphans with no father and mother to comfort and care for them, but God placed this little boy in our hearts and we are grieving his death.
When I called Michal just now, I told her I was searching for the verse that says God takes the lives of some to protect them from coming evil. I said I thought it was somewhere in Isaiah. Through her tears she responded, "Isaiah 57:1."
The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, He enters into peace; They rest in their beds, Each one who walked in his upright way.
If Augustine could ask his readers to pray for his mother, may I follow him in asking for prayer for our daughter, Michal, as well as the others who loved and cared for Mpaulo--the Wegeners, Annie Walker, the women of Ndola's Transient Home for Children, and Doug and Heather Ummel?
May the Lord be pleased to add an orphanage in Africa, filled with the love of Jesus Christ and called, "Mpaulo's Home." And may He be pleased, also, to give many of His people the grace to follow Him in being a father to the fatherless.
I am so grateful our Lord allowed Mpaulo to spend the last few weeks of his life being carried around in a chitenga on the backs of women and girls who loved Jesus, and therefore loved him.
A little over a year ago I visited my dear friend, David Wegener, his wife, Terri, and their four children--Elizabeth, Mary, John, and Sarah--in Ndola, Zambia. Under the auspices of the PCA's Mission to the World, David teaches at the Theological College of Central Africa. Our daughter, Michal (along with an almost-adopted daughter of ours, Annie Walker) were just completing three months of classes under David's instruction. In the afternoons they volunteered at the orphanage just down the road from the Wegeners' home.
This was my first trip to Africa and I loved it. When asked for my general reaction, I'd say it made me aware of how small the United States are. Not small spatially or financially, but small in spirit. Maybe better, how 'insular,' 'provincial,' or 'parochial' we are.
One of the best ways of peering into the African way is to examine the different perspective on money and wealth so pervasive across Africa. Had I voiced my ignorance prior to experiencing it, I would have used words such as 'irresponsibility,' 'dishonesty,' and even 'theft.' There's no doubt such words are appropriate for Africans, just as they have been for all other people across the ages. Hence the Eighth Commandment "Thou shalt not steal."
But my daughter, Michal, began to discipline my prejudices as soon as I arrived, and my education continued upon arriving back home. Someone sent me a copy of an article with a title something like, "An Anthropologist Looks at the African View of Wealth and Money." Although I'm not sure, I suspect that article grew into the book David Wegener here excerpts in his most recent newsletter to supporters.
If you'd like to receive the Wegeners' newsletter, Vine and Branches, and support their ministry through money and/or prayer, you may write David at dwegener at mtwafrica dot org. Here then the promised excerpt:
Mary Lee, Hannah (our sixteen year old daughter), Taylor (our twelve year old son), and I travel to Zambia at the end of June for a couple weeks in Zambia visiting David and Terri Wegener and their children. I'll have some teaching and preaching opportunities there, and we'll all spend time at the orphanage.
Mary Lee, Hannah, and Taylor will then spend a week in Hungary visiting our dear friends, Grant and Deb Olson, who work there with Campus Crusade. Meanwhile, I will be in Kigali, Rwanda with ten other men from our congregation erecting a steel building which will serve as a Christian school under the direction of Jean Baptiste, National Director of Rwanda Youth for Christ. We would appreciate your prayers for our travel and ministry.
If you're interested in learning more about Africa, here's a list of books I've read and recommend highly:
By way of explanation concerning the infrequency of posts, recently, David has been on vacation in Colorado and is working hard to catch up now that he's home. For myself, along with my wife, Mary Lee, and our two youngest children, Hannah and Taylor, this week we're off to Africa.
Mary Lee, Hannah, Taylor, and I will be leaving this coming Wednesday morning for Chicago where we will fly out of Ohare to Zambia (just below the Democratic Republic of Congo) for a couple weeks with our congregation's missionaries there, the David and Terri Wegener family.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 17, 2005 - 7:21am
On another World magazine blog site, Zeitgeist, Jack Crabtree writes:
I traveled to Africa this summer with my friend, Earle Craig, a staff pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Costa Mesa California. We were invited by Dr. Moffat Zimba, president of Northrise University in Ndola, Zambia. I taught an intensive two-week course on Romans. Earle taught an intensive course on the Pentateuch. The ministry students at Northrise have learned their Bible largely from TBN and much of what the apostle Paul was saying in the book of Romans was radically different from what they had absorbed through Christian culture. What struck me was their response. I discovered, to my delight, that I was in a room full of biblicists, authentic biblicists. Not just people who liked to say that the Bible was their ultimate authority, but people who actually believed it and practiced it. If they were persuaded that the biblical text was teaching what I was proposing, they were prepared to change their view of God, man, and the cosmos in order to have their views conform to what the Bible teaches. As I teach here in America, it is not unusual for people to respond, "That can't be right! I've never heard that before." The objection is not, "That can't be right! That's NOT what the Bible says" (followed by an argument for why the Bible is saying something different). Rather, the objection is, "That can't be right because we have never heard that interpretation before." Or even, "That can't be right because WE don't believe that." Americans ground their beliefs in culture and tradition more than they do in the Bible. Too often we are not prepared to let the Bible correct and stand in judgment over our particular Christian subculture and tradition. We prefer to live in the safety of some community consensus. In contrast, these Zambians I was with seemed genuinely prepared to alter their lives by what the Bible was saying to them.
So what's the likelihood that two of Zeitgeist's bloggers spent time in Ndola, Zambia this summer training future pastors? Well, my wife, Mary Lee, and our two youngest children, Hannah and Taylor, spent the first two weeks of July in Ndola while visiting our dear friends, David and Terri Wegener. David teaches at the Theological College of Central Africa and I've visited him twice in the past fourteen months. During the visits I've taught classes at TCCA, preached in their chapel services, and preached at area churches.
The work of TCCA is impressive and, in a heartbeat, I'd encourage African men to prepare for the ministry there rather than leaving the continent to be trained in the US, for instance. TCCA is lead by an able principal, Joseph Simfukwe, who has served in the pastorate and directs TCCA with a wise and godly pastor's heart.
But on to the matter of Trinity Broadcasting Network and the authority of Scripture in Zambia as compared to the United States.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 19, 2005 - 10:49am
Nigerian Anglican primate, Archishop Peter Akinola, has called for the suspension of the Church of England from the worldwide Anglican communion due to her anticipated endorsement of same-sex covenant unions for her priests. Akinola has often shown himself a man of the Word in the past few years, and again proves as much. He leads between sixteen and eighteen million Nigerian Anglicans.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 29, 2005 - 9:41am
A new laptop will be unveiled by MIT's Media Lab in November. The laptop has been designed to sell for under 100 US and to open the information age to billions more.
A few years ago a missions leader in eastern African asked me for book recommendations in a number of areas of biblical studies and theology. He was writing material for the church leaders of his nation and needed some foundational material himself. After collecting my recommendations, I prepared to order the books and ship them to him.
Then it occurred to me that what I was doing was foolish. A number of my recommendations were available electronically (often PDF documents), and those too new to be available electronically were often easily replaced by similar works that were available. Here (scroll down for the free books--caveat non-emptor: there's chaff in this wheat), here, and here are representive links.
So I ended up shipping a few printed books, but also a number of CDs with hundreds of electronic books burned onto them. And of course, it was all at a fraction of the cost with the added benefit of not being susceptible to mildew or theft! And for the cost of the media (a CD at ten cents) my friend could duplicate the books for others.
So I'm excited about this new laptop. It could do much to open up excellent material to Christians around the world.
By the way, the computer will run a stripped down version of Linux (hip hip hooray for open source); its screen will switch from color to black and white on the fly, with four times the resolution in black and white (able to be viewed in sunlight); and its screen hinge will incorporate a small crank to make it independent of a plug-in power source.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 31, 2005 - 1:38pm
Bill and Melinda Gates are providing strong support for research into the prevention and cure of what is far and away the world's largest killer disease, malaria. The Gates have committed over a quarter of a billion dollars to this effort and all of us ought to be grateful for their actions. It's a scandal that the northern hemisphere has not done more to end this scourge.
So, thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Gates! May God bless you for this act of generosity.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 3, 2006 - 7:35am
Bruce Wilkinson is best known for his little booklet, The Prayer of Jabez, which sold millions of copies and made Mr. Wilkinson a very, very rich man. Then, back in 2002, Mr. Wilkinson became convinced that his next project should be solving Africa's problems.
Wilkinson moved to Swaziland where he intended to build a massive demonstration project that would become a model for healing the continent. According to a December 19, 2005 article (sorry, by subscription only) in the Wall Street Journal, Wilkinson announced his Swaziland project would include a bed-and-breakfast, game reserve, Bible college, industrial park, and tourist destination similar to Disney's theme parks.
He founded a non-profit organization called Dream for Africa and took off on the lecture/sermon circuit to promote his vision.
Rick Warren invited Mr. Wilkinson to Saddleback Community Church and, following his visit, adopted a similar vision for another African nation, Rwanda.
Robert Schuller invited Wilkinson to preach at his Crystal Cathedral. Coinciding with his work, Dream for Africa, Wilkinson had issued another booklet called The Dream Giver. Pushing both his new booklet and his Africa work, Wilkinson began his October 26, 2003 sermon in the Crystal Cathedral titled "Living the Dream" as follows:
Good morning, everyone. I want to talk about dreams. Of all places in the world to talk about dreams this is the place ... because I think Dr. Schuller is the patriarch, in the work about living your dream.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 10, 2006 - 11:03am
Last summer during our visit to the David Wegener family in Ndola, Zambia, we were able to place the grave marker on the grave of little Mapalo, the baby so loved by our daughter, Michal. As Michal and Annie visited the orphanage several doors down from the Wegeners when they were there in 2004, they dared to hope that one of the children might be carried over to these United States and adopted by a Christian family here, to be raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Michal's older sister, Heather, and her husband, Doug Ummel, decided they would, indeed, adopt Mapalo if the Lord allowed it. Alas, He didn't. As I wrote about here, two days after Michal and Annie left for home, Mapalo suddenly took sick and died. With some from the orphanage, David Wegener and his family held a funeral service, then had a tombstone made to be set when we journeyed over to visit them one year later. This is the setting of that stone, with tears and prayer.
Mapalo's grave is surrounded by other graves, all of little ones. The usual causes, dysentery, AIDS, malaria...
Look closely at the children's graves and you notice little bowls, bottles, and rattles, needed no more--memorials for those too poor to buy a sign...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 11, 2006 - 7:48am
(Jesus said) And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)
Heather Ummel, Tim's eldest, writes: This little girl died last week of AIDS in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at Le Toukoul Orphanage. Just four short weeks ago, I met her and held her in my arms. I wish I knew her name, but it was very hard to pronounce in Amheric and now I can't remember it. Now, like a wisp, her life is gone. She was one of the orphans living in Toukoul Orphanage where I picked up my son to bring him home. She touched my heart through her smiles. It seemed it must be painful for her just to be held--her skin was so tightly stretched over her skeleton. But there was no complaint--only smiles.
She was six years old in a body of a two or three year old. She couldn't say more than a few words; I think the strain would have been too much. And yet she smiled. She wanted to go in our car, but we couldn't take her anywhere. We handed her back to one of the workers to take back to her crib, where we were told she spent most of her life. Another of the HIV-positive children at the orphanage died the same week of chicken pox. These are the children dying of AIDS. This is the face of the two to three million children with AIDS in the world. A child under the age of 15 dies of AIDS every minute. It is hard to hear statistics, especially that vast of numbers, and picture real people, real children, children God commands us to care for. I turn and look at the happy little 7-month-old next to me, and realize he is alive and here only by the grace of God. May God bless those who are obeying His call to serve the least of these. And may there be more who seek to throw their arms open to these little ones--providing money to a ministry, moving to Africa to work, going to Africa to bring an orphan home.
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them." (Mark 10:13-16)
by David and Tim Bayly on February 13, 2006 - 2:39pm
(Note: This paper was written as an Indiana University independent study project by a young man at Church of the Good Shepherd, Lucas Weeks. Reading Pastor David Wegener's wise comments appearing just above concerning aid to Africa (particularly related to AIDS programs), I thought it would be good to share with our readers this confirmation of Mr. Wegener's counsel. Mr. Weeks is the son and grandson of missionaries to Africa. For ease of formatting, four footnotes weren't included. Mr. Weeks' E-mail is ldweeks at indiana dot edu. -Tim Bayly)
Catherine Campbell is a professor of Social Psychology at the London School of Economics and an adjunct professor and Fellow of the Center for HIV/AIDS networking at the University of Natal, South Africa. She has written widely on the topic of HIV/AIDS prevention and care and is widely respected in her field. The concluding remarks of one of her recent papers on the effectiveness of youth HIV prevention included the following:
In the HIV/AIDS field there is now general recognition that HIV prevention efforts need to go hand in hand with parallel efforts to promote social environments that are supportive of safer sexual behaviour (Beeker et al., 1998; Tawil et al., 1995; Waldo & Coates, 2000). Details of the social changes that are needed nearly always refer to the need to mitigate the more general impacts of poverty and gender inequalities, in the interests of providing contexts that increase people's power to protect their sexual health....
Our findings have shown how young people in Ekuthuleni are excluded from access to education and work; political representation; respect and recognition; and participation in informal and formal community networks. We have highlighted how these forms of exclusion undermine the likelihood of effective HIV prevention on the assumption that sexual behaviour change is facilitated not only by knowledge about HIV/AIDS, but also by youth solidarity, empowerment, critical thinking and the presence of bonding and bridging social capital. There is much scope for youth HIV prevention initiatives to work hand in hand with community development programmes that promote young people's social and political participation, increase opportunities for their economic empowerment, challenge negative social representations of young people, and work towards greater recognition of their sexuality and their right to protect their sexual health." (Campbell et. al., 2005)
While Dr. Campbell and her colleagues have chosen to specifically target youth in this particular study, the excerpt is informative because it is representative of a number of key points in current HIV/AIDS prevention research. First, there is a growing recognition within the international AIDS community that, as stated above, AIDS programs cannot ignore the context in which they are to be implemented. 'Context', in this instance, can be defined broadly: politics, cultural norms, poverty, societal institutions and their stability (or lack thereof), gender relations, religious practices and beliefs, civil and international conflict, etc. Again and again, researchers have found that even the best funded and most careful conceived and implemented AIDS programs fail if local realities are not taken into consideration (a number of examples will follow below). Development issues, such as poverty, the lack of infrastructure and the dearth of education, are often mentioned as fundamental barriers to effective HIV/AIDS preventions.
The reason that HIV/AIDS prevention and care in sub-Saharan Africa is such an intractable problem, and the second reason that Campbell's excerpt bears mentioning, is because it seems to be a place-holder for everything else that is wrong in the African nations that have been the hardest hit by the epidemic...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 13, 2006 - 3:07pm
Note: Here's some wise advice from a Mission to the World (Presbyterian Church in America's mission agency) missionary, Pastor David Wegener, who is supported by both Christ the Word and Church of the Good Shepherd. David teaches at the Theological College of Central Africa. Write him at mtwafrica dot org.
Let me try and be specific about some of the things I now recommend concerning Christian missions and aid to Africa. I haven't always believed what I'm going to say below; I've learned by making mistakes.
Why have I changed? There have been several factors. One of my bosses at Mission to the World regularly sends out memos and passes on articles that have shaped my thinking. Sometimes I've reacted in frustration: if everything we're doing is wrong, what are we supposed to do? But he has also shown some good models of what we can do.
I've also seen the sense of entitlement in the churches and colleges here. Students think they are owed support by western mission agencies or donors. Churches expect short-term teams and individuals to bring them gifts. Sometimes they even make specific requests before any gift is offered.
Just yesterday, I was riding my bike to campus after lunch and passed a young boy of about 12 years old. Our eyes met and he said to me (quite audibly), "give me your bike." (And my bike is no fancy thing. It's a mountain bike, bought used in the States about ten years ago for $50.) This is a tiny thing, but it is illustrative of the sense of entitlement that we have helped create over here.
Here, then, are some guidelines that I recommend for giving to Africa...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 28, 2006 - 8:53am
From a friend who's studying Swahili:
Swahili is not gendered like the Romance languages of Europe; there are no masculine and feminine words. But in Swahili there are two different verbs referring to marriage: one for men, and one for women. The male word "kuoa" is translated actively as "to marry." The female word "kuolewa" is passive, and is translated "to get married." How's that for leadership?
The past few years there has been a growing division, bordering on fragmentation, of what used to be called the worldwide Anglican communion. The focal point of this division became the consecration in November 2003 of the Right Rev. Vicky Imogene "Gene" Robinson as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire within the Anglican communion's American branch, the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA).
Back in 1986 Robinson had divorced his wife and since 1989 has been living in a sodomitic relationship with New Hampshire state employee, Mark Andrews. His sexuality is not private, but very much a point of pride, and he seeks to lead others into the same shame he and Mr. Andrews bear--all this in the name of Jesus Christ and His Church.
A firestorm ensued and has continued to this day. For the most part, the breakdown has fallen along the lines of the northern and southern hemispheres, with the southern hemisphere--primarily Africa and the Diocese of Sydney in Australia--calling her northern sisters to repentance. Predictably, the vast majority of Anglicans today are members of southern hemisphere Anglican churches, so the Brits and Americans can't brush off the prophetic calls of Africa as they might otherwise be inclined.
As the ECUSA has hardened its position the past couple of years, steps have been taken by some churches and larger Anglican communions in the U.S. to sever fellowship with the ECUSA, transferring to various African communions where they would be in submission to church fathers of the African Anglican church.
This past week, a document surfaced that had been kept under wraps for the past couple of years...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 21, 2006 - 5:28pm
The other day, Zondervan sent me a preview of the Africa Bible Commentary (ABC), a one-volume commentary written by seventy African scholars co-published by Zondervan and WordAlive Publishers in Nairobi. Along with two forewords, a vision statement, an introduction, the Oversight Committee, the name and country of each of the "African scholars" (no South Africans, white or black; but one African American), and a couple other short items, the bulk of the preview is the text of the commentary on James written by Solomon Andriatsimialomananarivo of Madagascar. (One reader of this post told me the post is racist, that I haven't recorded Mr. Andriatsimialomananarivo's name correctly. I'm simply recording it as it appears in the copy of the text.)
The ABC vision statement reads, "The general aim of the commentary is to make the word of God speak relevantly to African realities today." What should we expect from the whole ABC based on Andriatsimialomananarivo's work on James?
In a few small ways "African realities" are addressed; we find a short, helpful discussion of favoritism by Soro Soungalo; Andriatsimialomananarivo cites the African proverb, "Thin cows are not licked by their friends;" we read that "the fall of rich people is very common in Africa;" there's a mention of non-governmental organizations (NGOs); and so on. But Andriatsimialomananarivo is muted when it comes to two of the texts in James where the Africa context cries out to be addressed--James 1:27 and 4:2a:
Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. (James 1:27)
The question isn't easy, partly because of the definition of "African." Do you define "African" as someone who is black, who was born on the sub-Saharan part of the continent, and who continues to live there? Or is it someone who is black and was born on the sub-Saharan part of the continent, but it doesn't matter where he lives now? Or does skin color trump all, and someone who is black qualifies as an African no matter where he was born or presently lives?
At first it appears the editors view skin color as absolute since one contributor is listed with his country designated "African-American." But then, in the text of this preview document, John Stott claims these modern Bible interpreters are a "resurgence in the continent that gave us such interpreters as Augustine and Athanasius." Under this view, the continent trumps all.
So then, what do we do with those born and raised in Africa--even sub-Saharan Africa--who aren't black? Say, for instance, a white South African--is he African or is he a man without a continent?
A shipping supply station was set up by the Dutch on the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 and Dutch settlements grew from it over the next two centuries. If a man is a descendant of those Dutch settlers, is he African or European? And what if his great great grandfather married a Christian black African? Are their descendants African?
Now about this time some readers are thinking this is a rather delicate subject that no true gentleman would raise. I must demur.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 11, 2006 - 2:58pm
This Fall, Church of the Good Shepherd has four of her members and one close friend working at an orphanage called "The Cottages" in Loskop, South Africa. Our middle child, Michal, and her husband, Ben Crum, have been there since late August. Our fourth child, Hannah, and two friends, Kim Berner and Emily Dorton, arrived at the orphanage in early October. All five will come home on December 16th, Lord willing. Here are a few pictures they've been able to get up on Ben's blog. Check them out to see South Africa's landscape, but more the beautiful children.
The Cottages are under the auspices of a ministry birthed by folks who are a part of Mars Hill Church in Seattle called the Agathos Foundation. Like any startup, Agathos has had its ups and downs. Its web site summarizes their vision:
In an effort to provide a highly cost-effective, easily replicable support system for the unique needs of orphans and the elderly, the Agathos Foundation establishes farming communities in Southern Africa wherein the strengths of each age are brought together and utilized so that each distinct need is fulfilled. The Agathos Foundation--in cooperation with U.S. and regional charities, local churches, NGO's, cities and villages--purchases and maintains profitable farms that provide necessary capital for the housing, education, professional skill building, micro-financing, health care, and supervision of orphans by the elderly in an organic, familial environment.
But, as my mother says, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." Despite the exciting vision given above...
A number of years ago, our brother, Nathan, told us of the prevalence of the Masonic Order in one of the PCA churches in his area, and how the church would not stand for their pastor preaching against it...
(Tim, w/thanks to David) Well actually, I don't know his name, but he caused Sodomite Gene Robinson's sermon in an Anglican church in England to grind to a halt by calling the bad Bishop to "Repent! Repent! Repent! I stand on the Word of God! Repent!" (See link below.)
Why is this wicked Episcopal bishop over in England preaching just now?
Archbishop Rowan Williams is presiding over the once-a-decade Anglican meeting of bishops known as the Lambeth Conference held in Canterbury. He's invited almost all the 800 Anglican bishops worldwide. Only a few were barred from attending. One of them--the most significant one--is Bishop Gene Robinson who the United States Anglican communion known as the Episcopal Church elevated to the bishopric despite his being an unrepentant sodomite. After his elevation, the first person to greet him in the chancel area as a part of the liturgy was his sodomite lover, followed by his ex-wife and two adult daughters.
Trouble is, by far the largest part of the Anglican communion today is in the Southern Hemisphere and, being somewhat backward, African and Central and South American, and even Australian, bishops and archbishops are scandalized by this heresy and threatening or carrying out schism. (Well, actually, not schism; it's impossible to be guilty of schism when you're separating from those who bless sodomy and elevate sodomites into the bishopric. Really, it's church discipline, but from the bottom up which is not the way things ordinarily are supposed to go.)
But back to the Archbishop of Canterbury His Grace Dr. Rowan Williams. He's in an awkward position...
(Tim) Last night, our elders, pastors, and wives gathered for dinner and an evening's conversation with Pastor Conrad Mbewe, a dear brother who serves as the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia. Pastor Mbewe was here in the States to preach at the missions conference of Heritage Baptist Church in Owensboro, Kentucky. Tonight, the men studying here at ClearNote Pastors College will also have dinner and an evening learning from Ba Mbewe. We all give thanks to God for this opportunity.
Some years back, Pastor David Wegener, a dear friend of my brother David and I who had served as a pastor here at Church of the Good Shepherd, moved to Ndola, Zambia, to begin serving as an instructor at the Theological College of Central Africa. Along with his wife, Terri, and their four children, Lizzie (who lives with Mary Lee and me this year), Mary, John, and Sarah, David is seconded to TCCA by the Presbyterian Church in America's mission agency, Mission to the World. At TCCA, David serves under Principal Joseph Simfukwe. Soon after beginning his work in Zambia, Pastor Wegener told us of the vital Biblically reformed work being done done in Lusaka by Pastor Mbewe, and since that time, Pastor Wegener has begun lecturing at the preaching college sponsored by Pastor Mbewe's congregation. So we knew of Pastor Mbewe through Pastor Wegener, but until last night, had never met him.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 13, 2008 - 4:14am
(Tim) Yesterday, Pastor Conrad Mbewe posted an account of the services held for his dear friend and fellow elder, Dr. Simon Mphuka, who was laid to rest last Friday. The loss to Kabwata Baptist Church there in Lusaka, Zambia, and to the nation itself (Dr. Mphuka was a key leader in the provision of medical care in association with local churches in southern Africa) is large and I ask you to join me in praying for the Lord's comfort for Dr. Mphuka's widow, Lillian, and her three daughters, as well as our brothers in Christ there in Lusaka.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 6, 2008 - 7:55pm
(Tim) Despite his false statement about yours truly (his daughter does live in our house, after all, so the man knows which side of his bread is buttered), I do think the comment just made by our Zambian Mission to the World correspondent, David Wegener, summarizing his conclusions to our lengthy discussion of Governor Palin's Vice-Presidential candidacy is about right. For those of you who've given up on the Palin comments, here's what David has to say:
* * *
As best I could, I’ve tried to follow the debate that has gone on here over Sarah Palin and how we should then vote. I haven’t done very well, nor of following the thread over on Pastor Wilson’s blog, but here are my two cents.
Sarah Palin is a very conflicted woman and I feel very conflicted about her. She is a Christian, a member of Feminists For Life, a wife and a mother who is running for Vice President. You can’t be a feminist and pro-life. Islam is built on five pillars...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 10, 2008 - 11:45am
(Tim) Each week, our church has a pickup soccer game at an elementary school near an apartment complex where a number of Muslim law school students live. When we're playing, one or more of the men (and sometimes their wives and children) come over to watch, and occasionally to play. Always, we talk afterward inviting them over for dinner and to church Lord's Day morning. A week and a half ago, one of the men came to both Sunday school and church.
Most of the men are from Turkey, but one is Liberian. During a conversation, the subject of Senator Barack Obama's faith came up and the Liberian gentleman said, "Barack Obama's a Christian, isn't he?"
"No, he's not a Christian," I answered.
"But doesn't he go to a Christian church?" he asked in some confusion.
"Well yes, he holds membership in a church that claims to be Christian, but it's not...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 14, 2008 - 11:21am
(Tim, w/thanks to James) Here's a report sent from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe by Eddie Cross. We should pray for our brothers and sisters there in Zim, as well as the nation itself. David's and my close relationship with our brothers in Christ, Conrad Mbewe, Joseph Simfukwe, and David Wegener in Zambia--Zim's northern neighbor--cause us to keep close watch on the meltdown. What happens in Zim has grave repercussions for both Zambia and South Africa.
* * * Chaos in Zimbabwe--An Eyewitness Report
Powerless: Today I went from one meeting to another using the main streets in Harare - it was pure chaos. The city had no electricity, the traffic lights at all intersections were not working and the traffic was gridlocked. The police were nowhere to be seen, and even as we sat in the traffic a police car drove past, ramped the pavement, and drove though the intersection paying no attention to what was going on around there.
Astronomical Inflation: At the Reserve Bank it was the same. It is printing money and creating money in other forms so fast that the inflation rate is no longer calculable. What we do know is that the RTGS rate - the rate at which foreign exchange is exchanged in the open market for money transferred by electronic means - is moving by the hour. At the beginning of August it was 1 to 1 against the US dollar (after we dropped 9 zeros) and yesterday it was 2,000,000 to 1. Quite a change in 8 weeks! At this rate it will be no less than 10 million to one by next weekend.
Frustration: Desperate people are queuing for days at the banks and other financial houses to try and get their money out of the system so that they can spend it before it literally melts to nothing...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 16, 2008 - 4:00am
(Tim) If the Holy Spirit leads you to join in prayer for the work of Pastor Conrad Mbewe and Kabwata Baptist Church in Zambia's capital, Lusaka, please download this PDF of their October prayer letter.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 25, 2008 - 1:33pm
(Tim) Here's what I want to ask all the Christian profs fawning over the Christian faith of Senator Barack Obama as well as the Submergent types in lockstep with them: What possible criteria could you use to justify your claim that Senator Obama is a Christian that wouldn't also force you to affirm that Zimbabwe's thug leader, Robert Mugabe, is also a true Christian? Mugabe has killed his thousands, but Obama his millions.
If Obama wins the presidency, the slaughter he will preside over and promote is incomprehensibly larger than even the worst estimates of Mugabe's murderous regime--unless, of course, you are unconcerned about the murder of the newborn, feeble, and unborn children.
But if you are concerned, Mugabe has the innocence of a child playing in a sandbox compared to the obsccenely wicked slaughter at the center of Senator Obama's campaign platform.
I'm betting most profs who assert that Senator Obama is a true Christian would deny Mugabe's Christian faith. So why the double standard? Why the universal condemnation of Mugabe by the same people given over to the adulation of Barack Obama? Isn't it amazing how Christians regain our moral compass and discernment as soon as the evil being evaluated and condemned is committed by people far away? Particularly Africans.
Last night, I read a profile of Robert Mugabe, the brutal dictator who's plunged his nation of Zimbabwe into death and destruction. He'd be up there near the top of heads of state around the world viewed as pariahs by other nation's leaders. Maybe the very top.
The New Yorker's profile written by Jon Lee Anderson is titled: "Letter from Zimbabwe, The Destroyer: A founding father lays waste to his country." Near the beginning, Anderson informs us Zim's inflation rate is now two hundred and thirty million percent, the unemployment rate is eighty percent, two million Zimbabweans are entirely dependent on aid from NGOs for their daily bread, another two million have fled Zim for refuge in South Africa, twenty percent of the population is infected with H.I.V./AIDS, life expectancy for men and women is about 44 years, starvation is rampant, leaders of political opposition groups are routinely imprisoned, beaten, and murdered, and the list goes on.
Meanwhile, wreathed in jewelry and forty years younger than her husband, Mugabe's second wife, Grace, says because of her narrow feet she can "only wear Ferragamo" shoes...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 5, 2008 - 6:45am
(Tim)Writing as a pastor concerning his own nation's election of a new president several weeks ago, Brother Conrad Mbewe of Lusaka, Zambia, says precisely what ought to be said today to Christians in these United States as we look at God's choice of Barack Obama to lead us. I hope you'll read it.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 6, 2008 - 9:07am
(Tim) The emoting over Obama's blackness is cloying hypocrisy. If an African American ascending our Imperial Throne means anything, its meaning is bound up with the end of the oppression of a group of persons formerly declared not full persons under our Constitution due to the color of their skin.
Instead of learning the lesson of his skin color and descent, though, Obama glides into office on the blood of an entire generation of souls, red and yellow, black and white, who aren't enslaved, but slaughtered...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 7, 2008 - 8:53am
(Tim) At the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King preached a sermon calling our nation to repentance. That sweltering afternoon before a quarter million souls, King cast a vision of what America would be like when white racism finally bled itself to its long-deserved ugly death:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a
nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of
Many are declaring the election of Barack Obama as the fulfillment of Martin Luther King's dream. In truth, it's the very opposite.
As Martin Luther King defined racism, what we've done has been racist to the core...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 7, 2009 - 2:50pm
(David)A fascinating article on Africa's need of Christian faith by an African expatriate in the London Times... (Thanks, Alex)
Those who have read David Wegener's assessments of Africa's needs on this blog will find this article especially interesting. Here's a taste:
I used to (applaud) the practical work of mission churches in Africa. It's a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package, but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it. I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith.
But this doesn't fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also
transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 20, 2009 - 5:19am
(Tim; this from and by Rev. David Wegener of Ndola, Zambia)
* * * This is an open letter from an American Reformed Christian living in Africa to my African Christian friends on the occasion of the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the U.S.A.
20 January 2009
Dear African Christian Brother:
I would ask you to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ in the church in America, particularly for those who believe in the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
I’ve just begun a new term at the college and one of the courses I teach is a survey of church history. Last week we learned about Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, who was asked to curse Christ or die. The old man replied, “for 86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Minutes after making this good confession he was burned alive... We also read about Blandina, a slave girl who endured indescribable tortures before being killed for her faith. In a few weeks we’ll study Athanasius, who was exiled from his pastorate five times because of his faith in our triune God and his willingness to stand alone against the world for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 20, 2009 - 11:12am
(Tim) Here’s the truth. Obama is the oppressor of children, born and unborn. But since his skin color is black, we can’t believe he’d oppress anyone. So we come out with all this blather about other social justice issues equally commanding our attention as Christians. Our goal, of course, is to obscure the fact that abortion absolutely dwarfs the death toll of all other forms of oppression around the world combined. That’s combined, brothers and sisters!
Why, just in these United States alone, since the bloody decision, Roe v. Wade, was issued, our nation has torn limb from limb, leg from torso, body from mother’s womb, over fifty million—50,000,0000—of our little children.
This number is so large that it makes Africans' Rwanda, Asians' Pol Pot, and Europeans' Hitler look tame by comparison. The only bloody oppressors who are even close to slaughtering the numbers we have slaughtered by our own national, systemic, bloody, oppressive, enslaving child-murders are Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
But, get this: If instead of talking about the death toll in our nation alone, we consider the international death toll from child slaughter through the murders we call “abortions,” then we’re talking about one Joseph Stalin every year. That’s well over 50,000,000 children slaughtered EVERY SINGLE YEAR!
It’s disgusting for otherwise educated and thoughtful men to seek to legitimize their conniving at this great bloody oppression that defines our nation by sniveling about systemic poverty and education and secondhand smoke and carbon emissions and AIDS.
If men who claim to know the Triune God want to vote Democratic; if men who claim to know the Triune God and have faith in Jesus Christ have black skin and want to vote for another man with black skin; we’d all be better off if they’d have the courage of their prejudices and admit them... You know, something like, “I’m afraid of not appearing progressive enough.” Or “I’m afraid my congregation would have my hide if I didn’t speak up for the brother.”
by David and Tim Bayly on January 21, 2009 - 8:25am
(Tim) Entertainers are the only ones permitted to be honest, today. But sometimes, scientists are cut some slack and are allowed to speak their minds, too. In that vein, did you notice yesterday's news that women are hard wired not to lose weight as easily as men. WebMD titled their article on the study, "Hunger Control: Women the Weaker Sex?" Turns out if we pay scientists to study the difference between the sexes, one of the results we'll get is that the sex that carries and nurses our children is hard wired to...
Well, to what?
Amazingly, to carry and nurse our children. Brilliant! Which got me thinking...
Anyone who's viewed a Reubens has to be skeptical of the cult of the thin body rampant in the American church. Only the perfectly naive would see it as a battle for holiness, the repentance of those who recognize their god is their belly.
When I was in Africa several years ago, David Wegener cautioned me to watch how I spoke about weight. Over there, he explained, any reference to one's weight (if one is adipose, as I am) is seen as arrogance. In other words, Africa is normal across history in thinking a fat wife contented and prosperous. Not sinful.
Through the years, I've had a number of wives come to me and ask me to pray that they'd lose weight...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 21, 2009 - 10:05am
(Tim) Readers may remember our introduction of Pastor Conrad Mbewe, leader of Zambia's vital Reformed churches. Conrad has started blogging. For several months we've had a link to him here at Baylyblog.
Two recent posts merit our readers' attention. The earlier one is a meditation on the current state of South Africa and the reformed church's witness there. David Wegener commends this post to us. The more recent post is Conrad's caution to fellow Africans caught up in the Messianic (my word) hopes of their continent concerning our latest president, Barack Obama. Both are worth your time.
As always, Pastor Mbewe is a wise living demonstration of the power of the Word of God wielded by a man of faith.
by David and Tim Bayly on April 13, 2009 - 11:17am
(Tim) Four years ago, Lucas Weeks wrote a paper on AIDS in Africa for a class he was taking at Indiana University. He focused particularly on the politicization of the issue and some of the success one nation, Uganda, had achieved in protecting the public health of her citizens. But of course no one wanted to know about the reason for Uganda's success because it demonstrated the immutable glory of God's Law.
Recent crud on Her.minutiae prompts me to make Lucas' paper available here for any interested in this issue. Lucas' parents are lifelong missionaries to Africa, focusing particularly on the same country his grandparents served as missionaries which in the past has been known as Congo or Zaire, but now is called the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To Mary Lee's and my joy, Lucas is now our son-in-law, married to our youngest daughter, Hannah. Currently a second-year student at ClearNote Pastors College, I hope you enjoy his paper. As you read, please keep in mind Lucas wrote this back in 2005.
(Tim) Conrad Mbewe serves as the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia--one of the more vital reformed witnesses the Lord has raised up in our time. The congregation is known for reaching into the dregs of society in a non-patronizing way, doing frontline evangelism, training pastors at a pastors college they sponsor, planting churches around the country, etc. As I said, the Lord's presence and blessing are obvious to those familiar with the congregation. This is a reformed congregation with a large heart, no censorious spirit, expansive in its witness and hopes, and living in the fear of God.
Maybe that's the thing that most strikes me about Pastor Mbewe and his people: they have not used reformed doctrine as a pathway to cheap grace that silences the fear of God. Everything is not "grace, grace, grace" to them. Their harp of ten thousand strings does not harp on that one string so long.
This is a test. Read through Kabwata's prayer letter noting the parts we must admit would never be written; or, if written, never quite make it past the editor's keyboard of our own churches' newsletters. To help with the task, I've put several in bold italics.
If the letter piques your interest, here's Pastor Mbewe's blog where you'll find a truly Biblical apostolic African voice.
* * *
KABWATA BAPTIST CHURCH PRAYER LETTER
“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Dear brothers and sisters,
We open this prayer letter with the words of Scripture, “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him” (Psalm 126:5-6). That is our testimony as a church as we review the last few months of the year 2008, including the first few months of this year.
MEMBERSHIP The year 2008 was full of tears, as we lost precious church members who graduated from the church militant to the church triumphant. We also wept much over the excommunications that were necessary in order to avert the judgment of God upon the church...
(Tim) Our eldest son, Joseph, and his wife, Heidi (see pic), are in the late stages of adopting a child from Ethiopia. This coming Monday, the Ethiopian court will act in their case, Lord willing, after which they may be free May 16th to travel to pick up their little boy. As longtime readers will remember, Doug and Heather Ummel (Heather is our firstborn) have a son, Josiah, who was adopted from Ethiopia a couple years ago.
Here's a pic of Josiah, along with some helpful adoption resources.
Would you please keep Joseph and Heidi, and the Ethiopian authorities, in your prayers? And if you're interested, here's the blog where Joseph and Heidi update us on their son's entry into God's Covenant Community. Here's Heidi's latest update...
(Tim) Praise the Lord! He has seen the affliction of his beloved and comforted them! Joseph and Heidi just heard the Ethiopian court has approved their adoption of Mamush, here pictured. Lord willing, they'll be travelling to Ethiopia this Saturday to begin the process of bringing their son home. Read more about it, here.
A few years ago, a godly Rwandan was preaching to us here at Church of the Good Shepherd and he took the occasion to rebuke us, saying we Americans had no authority to condemn Rwanda's genocide when we were slaughtering 1.3 million children in our own nation, year after year, with no sign of the bloodshed ending.
Truth is, many, many denominations, churches, elders, and pastors have endorsed the slaughter of the unborn here in these United States. And even among those pastors who claim to be pro-life, precious few are anti-abortion. Like the Rwandan priests and pastors, many of us...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 24, 2009 - 9:51am
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will... (Eph. 1:5)
(Tim) Since their return from Ethiopia where they spent two weeks, starting May 17, and picked up their son, Joseph and Heidi have been learning to be father and mother. Recently, they returned from a trip to Sawyer, Michigan and Pardeeville, Wisconsin, where they spent time with the Taylor and Staveness/Healy clans, respectively. All of us here in Bloomington have been rejoicing at God's kindness to Joseph and Heidi (and the rest of us) in giving them this wonderful child to raise as a Covenant child. What a joy he is to us!
by David and Tim Bayly on August 25, 2009 - 6:37am
(Tim) Recent tests showed South African runner, Caster Semenya, had three times the normal level of the male hormone, testosterone, prior to her latest competition. This led sports authorities to order what are widely being called "gender tests" to determine whether, when she blew her fields away in recent races, Miss Semenya had an unfair advantage. An errant fax number brought what should have been a private matter into the public eye.
Returning to Johannesburg following stunning victories at the World Athletics Championships, Miss Semenya told reporters...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 9, 2009 - 6:24pm
(Tim, w/thanks to Kamilla) Early church fathers rebuked Christians for paying money to feed their dogs while leaving abandoned children to die on the slopes behind their homes. But today, no one calls Christians to consider the love and affection and wealth we shower on our precious pets while turning cold hearts to the handicapped, the elderly, illegal aliens, AIDS orphans, and the unborn children slaughtered each week at the abortuaries just down the street from our churches.
In fact, some churches are leading the way in making a principle of such perversity. Blathering on about dogs' deep feelings and souls, Covenant Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles, for instance, has begun holding worship services for dogs and their people...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 18, 2009 - 7:46am
Jesus said: "You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (Matthew 5:13).
(Tim) Explaining to a friend the other day that I've found Roman Catholics writing about almost anything other than the five solas of the Reformation infinitely more interesting and helpful than Protestants, I lamented the inability of Reformed men to go against the flow. Why is that?
We went against the flow in the Reformation; and for years after, critical thinking under the Word of God belonged to us. But now, the only ones doing good critical (and often Biblical) thinking about ethics and war, sex, medicine, politics, art, demographics, culture, fertility, and the list goes on are almost exclusively Roman Catholic. About the only thing Protestants, and particularly Reformed Protestants, today are able to think about in an interesting way is how best to trim the coin of the doctrines of Scripture in such a way as to lower the hurdle barring entry to the Church for pomos who hate light, authority, meekness, humility, and truth. All our creativity goes toward church growth. Which is to say, all our creativity goes toward perfecting the idolatry Vernon Grounds warned against when he pointed out that the evangelical world worships at the altar of "the bitch goddess of success."
Show me any evangelical who's written on the place of vampire flicks in the sodomization of the Western world as...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 27, 2009 - 6:00pm
(Tim: This original piece is by my nephew, Isaiah Taylor, from his blog for kids, Bosaiah's Blog. I'm sure our readers agree his creative ability is undeniable. Here's the young gentleman all decked out with his sibs. If you're a child and would like to read Isaiah's blog, send him an e-mail.) Now before I get into this, if you have any siblings (or you yourself) who believe in Santa Claus and the parents want it to stay that way, don't read this to them. I'm giving you you a fair warning because I could get in big trouble if I caused a little kid to drop their belief in Santa when their parents wanted them to think he was real.
The first point I want to make is that Santa Claus is taking the place of Christ in the Christmas season. The name Christmas has a simple meaning: Christ Worship Service. This is supposed to keep the focus on Christ, but the human mind is very inattentive.
Most people don't know how this new religion came to be. It starts with a very generous man.
The story of Saint Nicholas tells of a poor man with three daughters...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 22, 2010 - 9:47am
(Tim) Please pray for Francois Murekezi's healing. This just in from David Wegener:
Serious situation at Theological College of Central Africa (Ndola, Zambia) tonight. Got a call around 7pm that one of our lecturers, Francois Murekezi (from Rwanda), was trying to get admitted to the hospital with cerebral malaria. That is very severe and people can often die within a short period of time, days or even hours.
So I decided to go over there even though visiting hours were over. (Francois) couldn't talk. Hopefully the quinine can arrest the malaria quickly.